"Betty Leopard": September 2011

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Looking Professional

So on Tuesday I had to give a talk to a group of scientists, researchers and risk assessors from the company that are part sponsoring my PhD. While there wasn't any official line on dress code, I felt a need to dress a bit more like a professional and a bit less like a student. I don't have an extensive range of professional type clothing, but I managed to throw together a decent outfit.
This is my first proper outfit post, so, I'm kind of making it up as I go along.

Leopard Print Pussy bow Blouse - originally from Monsoon but I picked it up as a bargain on eBay
Grey High Waisted Trousers - M&S (years ago)

I've only had the blouse a month or so and I really like it. It's silk and so floaty and feminine, but being leopard print it's still cool and not too girly. One of many leopard print items in my wardrobe. I'm a pretty big fan of the pussy bow as well, or bows in general actually. I intend to get hold of a velvet bow, like this one from Topshop, but that'll have to go on the list of 'To buy when I have money'. The blouse quite sheer, you could just about get away without wearing anything underneath it but I wore a black vest underneath just for modesty's sake.
The trousers on the other hand, I've had for years and they serve me well when I need to look smart. I like high waists primarily for the vintage styling, although as a bonus they seem to have been reasonably en vogue for a while as well. They're wide leg, which again I really like, they make me look thinner and they're comfortable to boot. I'm glad that they're fitting well again at the moment, before I lost some weight this summer they were a little snug. At one point when I was particularly thin they were so loose I had to put a safety pin in the side to keep them as high waisted rather than riding on my hips. I didn't get a shot from behind but the waist band has a V shape at the back which makes my bum look pretty good too :p
You can't see the shoes in the pic and they're also something I've had for years. They're black patent, round toe heels. I also have them in blue. They're great because the heel isn't too narrow so they're easy to walk in and they're the most comfortable heels I own, so perfect for wearing all day at a conference.
The occasion didn't really call for accessories, but I wore my pendant watch for the practicality of being able to tell the time more than anything.

I apologise for the poor quality editing on the picture, it was the best one of a great many I took, and when I was about to upload it I realised you could see the recycling waiting to be taken out, just behind me. Eep.

Hope you're all having a good week,

Tuesday, 20 September 2011


Since my post about the onset of Autumn I have been a bit obsessed with knitwear. This months budget hasn't allowed for me to buy any yet, but I've done an awful lot of browsing and have been picking out the things I'd like to get when I have some pennies.
I love knitwear, just the thought of a big snugly knitted jumper makes me feel cosy and safe and warm :) I'm looking for something big and chunky and maybe something oversized too. As much as I love clothes, I'm not sure if I'm that bothered about 'fashion'. I'd always rather go for something I like and that suits my own personal style, rather than something that's 'in'. I don't even know what's fashionable in knitwear anyway. Plus, when it comes to knits I'm old enough to appreciate the practical side of getting something that's actually warm, although style does still come into it.
Anyway, I thought I'd share some of the things I've been contemplating, in some different price ranges (NB. The price ranges are set by me according to my budget and willingness to pay).

Budget Options
1. F&F Limited Edition Stripe Body Knitted Jumper. Tesco. £18
2. Brave Soul Open Knit Cowl Neck Jumper. Tesco. £20
3. Ladies Stripe and Ladder Jumper. Peacocks. £20

I actually really like all of these jumpers, which is good, as they're the ones I'm most likely to be able to afford. I've always been a sucker for black and white and stripes, almost as much as for leopard print. All three look like they have good, chunky, cosy knits, but I'd have to see them and get hands on to be sure, budget options can often be disappointing 'in the flesh'. The cowl neck on the middle one looks especially warm.

Mid-Range Knits

1. Pink Swing Aran Knit Jumper. River Island. £35
2. Green Fisherman's Jumper. Dorothy Perkins. £28
3. Foil Print Jumper. Dorothy Perkins. £35

This selection is a bit more colourful, although I still have a preference for blacks, whites and greys at the moment. I like the pattern of the knit on the first one, and I didn't quite get my fill of coral over the summer. My only concern would be the length, there's a lot of cropped jumpers around at the moment that just don't do anything for me, and this one look a little on the short side. I my opinion a jumper needs to keep me warm, I don't want a cold middle. Looking at it now, I'm not totally sure why I chose the green one, probably trying to avoid an all grey selection. When I first saw the foil print jumper I wasn't too keen, but it has grown on me a lot, and now I really like the idea of a glitzy jumper, making knitwear a bit more glam.

Pricey Option
1. Black Fairisle Long Sleeve Jumper. River Island. £40
2. Sequin Stripe Top. Oasis. £50
3. Knitted Loose Stitch Jumper. Topshop. £40

I just love the fairisle jumper. I love the colours, I love the pattern, I love the shape. It's almost exactly the type of jumper I was looking for. If it wasn't £40 I'd have bought it already. Another glitzy option in there too, even shinier than the last one, I can totally see me wearing this around Christmas. Plus another colour boost. Great colour and looks super cosy too. All three look nice and long, which I've already said I like in a jumper. They are all pretty pricey from my point of view, but that probably does mean they'll be better quality.

I might try and have a trawl around the actual shops in the next few days to see what I can see. It's always better to get hands on with things before you buy them, it's hard to assess quality online and sizes can be really variable.
My area isn't particularly good for charity shop finds, I'd love to find a bargain in an old cable knit or aran jumper or something in faux fur, I'm mad on faux fur right now, but that's probably too much to hope for.

Has anyone found any bargain winter staples?

Thanks for stopping by,

Monday, 19 September 2011

Glossy Box Product Review

I've been quite preoccupied the past few days preparing a talk I have to give tomorrow :/ But I have still had to wash, which has given me plenty of opportunity to test out some of my Glossy Box products.

I really like the Dead Sea Spa Magik Salt Brushing. It is an amazingly effective exfoliator, I've used it mostly on my arms and also my face. I know it's meant for the body but with the bad skin I'm still suffering with (although it has improved a bit) I'm willing to try anything!! Personally, I think it did wonders, my skin was definitely softer and clearer the nest day. My arms were also much improved, and I really dislike the skin on my arms. Even though there were only two sachets in the box, it goes a long way (if you're careful) and I've still got one and a bit sachets left. Something to keep in mind though, it says use while stood in a bath or shower, and now I see why; the stuff goes everywhere!

As I've been slumming it a little while I've been preparing the presentation I haven't been putting my make-up on, so have only tried out the HD Brow Kit once. Nevertheless, I'm very impressed with it. it's easy to use and the brush included is god for getting a nice brow shape. I believe that the colours can also be used as eyeshadow or eyeliner, which is good as I'm only going to use one colour for my brows and don't want the rest to go to waste. When I've got my whole face on I'll take a picture so you can check out the effect.

The Neal & Wolfe Hair Shine Spray is also impressive. My hair looks shiny even though I only bleached it a few days ago. It smells great as well, like you've just walked out of the salon. Again, I've only used it once so I'm still a little concerned that if it builds up it might start to make my hair look greasy.

Just a short post for today. I'll be back with something more substantial after I get this stupid talk out of the way.


Thursday, 15 September 2011

Introducing Glossy Box

While a lot of you out there in the blogosphere are probably already well acquainted with Glossy Box, I only found out about it in the past month, and I'd imagine some of my readers will not be so familiar with the concept.
Glossy Box related blog posts started popping up in my Twitter feed a few weeks ago, after they held a promotional event for a few lucky bloggers. Upon reading these posts I learnt that Glossy Box is a subscription service that delivers a selection of 5 'high-end brand' beauty products to your door on a monthly basis. Now I'm not usually much of a high-end brand beauty product type of girl, partly because of budget constraints and partly because I don't always believe that a significantly higher cost guarantees a significantly better product. However, at £10 per month (plus £2.95 p&p), Glossy Box kind of overcomes my issues, it makes it easy and cheap to give products a test run, as well as introducing you to brands and products you may not have come across or thought to use all wrapped up with the extra bonus of an exciting and beautiful delivery every month!

Anyway, I signed up right away. You only need to give 14 days notice to cancel your subscription, so I figured it was worth trying at least once! That was a few weeks ago. The September boxes were shipped out this week and mine arrived today (it wasn't the one being delivered by Home Delivery Network by the way, it arrived promptly in the hands of a Royal Mail postie). I photographed the entire opening process, to try and capture the joy and excitement involved in opening such a beautiful and exciting package.

The Royal Mail stickers kind of detract from the overall prettiness, but I do like the colour of the Tracked label ;)
And this is just the outer postage packing!
Actual Glossy Box
Such beautiful packaging

Not every box is the same, different people get different products. When you sign up you complete a little 'beauty profile' which they use to help select the most appropriate products for you.
The Contents of my box were;
  • Neal and Wolf GLOW Super Shine Spray
  • Dead Sea Spa Magik Salt Brushing
  • HD Brows Eye & Brow Palette
  • Green People Fruitful Nights
  • Mary Greenwell Plum Eau de Parfum 

I'm pretty impressed with what I've got. Having already read some other reviews, I know not everyone agrees. I'm really keen to get to use the the Salt Brushing (Body Scrub) and the Brow Kit, I love exfoliators/body scrubs and my eyebrows are a constant problem for me and I've considered getting a brow kit recently. The hair shine spray looks good and I'll definitely be trying it out, given the amount of torture I put my hair through it can often do with a bit of a shine boost. I just hope this adds shine without making my hair look greasy. The night cream is also a good item for me as, if you read my recent skin trauma post, I've not quite broken into the world of anti-aging treatments but I'm getting to an age when I feel I should be. I haven't read many good reviews of the perfume, and I probably agree. It's not horrible, definitely not, it's just not me. I don't wear a lot of perfume anyway and don't really know enough about it to make any meaningful comments, I just know it's not a scent that I would wear.

Overall, I'm happy with my first Glossy Box experience and will be awaiting my next box with as much excitement as this one. I'll review the products as I use them. That's another benefit of the Glossy Box experience, you can review the items on the website to earn 'Glossy Dots', points that will eventually count towards a free box!
For anyone interested in new beauty products or experimenting with new products, I would say it's worth giving Glossy Box a go. I know not everyone 'gets it', if you don't then maybe it's not for you, but I'm sure some of you out there will find the idea of receiving a beautiful box full of exciting surprise beauty products as irresistible as I have.
If you fancy getting some more opinions, chec out these suggestions, or search Glossy Box Blog in Google; May Loves Makeup, The Fashion Freak, House of Beautiful Idiots, Burn the Blonde). Or if you want to check out their website, go to http://www.glossybox.co.uk

On a slight side not, am I the only one who looks at their Glossy Box and thinks, that will make a great storage box? I'm such a hoarder :/
Anyone else used Glossy Box? What do you think?

Best Wishes,

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

One of those days

I don't want this to be a moany post but, today has definitely been one of those days.
Although I slept really quite well, I woke up feeling a bit low and grump. I think it's partly hormonal and partly being lonely. I was disturbed from my dozing by a knock at the door. I hate answering the door in my dressing gown, but I've been waiting for a delivery and I didn't want to miss it. Much to my disappointment it wasn't my delivery, but an electrician coming to fit new radiators. This didn't make me happy for a number of reasons 1) it wasn't my delivery 2) it was the same electrician I've had sent before who I dislike because he's sleazy and creepy and makes inappropriate comments 3) he was going to be hanging around for ages and interfering with my day 4) I wasn't dressed 5) I have repeatedly asked the letting agents to make sure workmen don't turn up without calling as we have a dog and, while he's very friendly, if someone were to let themselves in while he was home alone I have no idea how he would react.
Anyway, I didn't have much choice so, after putting some clothes on, I let him in to get on with the job. Shame that job involved drilling and banging and crashing around, so it was very hard to be pretending to work to avoid having to make small-talk. Also, in the process of all the banging and clattering, he knocked one of my photo collages off the wall. It was in one of those large glass clip frames and the glass smashed everywhere :( That didn't make me happy either.
So, after a few hours of putting up with him asking questions; "Where's your pole?" (last time he was here I had my pole dancing pole up, which was the beginning of his inappropriate comments), "Where's your boyfriend?", "When's he back?", "How long have you been together?", he was finally finished and left.
Still no sign of my delivery though. I checked the tracking website and found that it had arrived in my local depot on Saturday and was loaded onto a delivery van on Saturday, but then returned to the depot at the end of the day. It was then reloaded onto a delivery van yesterday (but not Monday?) and again was returned undelivered to the depot at the end of the day. WTF? The item being delivered is from Amazon, so I contacted them to complain about their choice of delivery service (Home Delivery Network). I got an apologetic response saying they had contacted Home Delivery Network who claim they tried to deliver yesterday but "could not get access to the building". As I was in all day yesterday and have the worlds loudest doorbell, they can't have tried very hard, and also didn't leave any card to inform of the supposed failed delivery. The person at Amazon said they have advised that they try to deliver again, so if it doesn't arrive tomorrow, there will be serious trouble!!
That's already quite a lot of moaning isn't it? Sorry, I needed to vent :/

On a much, much happier note, I found out yesterday that one of my absolute bestest friends got engaged at the weekend!!! I am so happy for her and her boyf fiance. They're probably not going to actually get married for a while, but I'm still very excited, I've never been to a friends wedding before. I think I might cry. Will be a super reason to buy a fancy outfit, and a hat!
Congratulations Bob and Charlie :)

If I am particularly bored later, which is quite likely, I might life the mood with the post I intended to write today; My Wednesday Wishlist.

Hope you're day has been less frustrating than mine,

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Bleeding Hearts

The first thing I have made using my own jam. They're clearly just jammy dodgers, but I made them and I think Bleeding Hearts is a good name for them.
It's a really simple recipe:
225g All-Purpose Flour
175g Margarine/Butter
130g Caster Sugar
1 Egg Yolk
Mix together the flour and butter in a mixer or with an electric whisk, until they look like breadcrumbs.
Add the sugar and egg yolk and continue to mix until the mixture starts to come together. I had to add a little water to form a proper dough.
Knead the mix to form a smooth dough, then roll into a ball, wrap in cling film and put into the fridge for half an hour.
When the dough is chilled, roll out onto a floured surface and cut out your shapes of choice.
Place shapes on a baking tray (with baking parchment or similar non-stick thing) and bake at 180 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes. My oven is really rubbish so I always have to bake things longer, usually judging by colour if they're done.
After baking, cool on a wire rack. When cool, take two biscuits and stick together with jam!

I got about 10 sandwiched biscuits out of the batch, with a small amount of leftover dough that I just pressed into a circle and used as a taster, hehe :)

As with most of my baking, they're not perfect, but I'm not so bothered. They're all slightly unique in their shape and they're maybe a little crunchier than I had intended, but they're yummy, and that's the most important thing as far as I'm concerned :)

I always have a little struggle with my conscience over recipes that call for either just egg yolk or just egg white, I hate waste!! So I used the egg white that didn't go into the biscuits and whipped up a small batch or meringues, so I probably am going to make lemon meringue cupcakes this week!

Hope you've enjoyed you weekend,

Saturday, 10 September 2011

We Be Jammin'

Having been inspired by my new Queen of Crafts book, I decided to turn my hand to a little jam making this weekend. It's something I've fancied trying for a while, I like the idea of preserving and storing fruit and veg produce for the winter. There's something satisfying and comforting about the idea to me.
Anyway, I was aware that it about the time of year for blackberry picking. I have great memories of picking blackberries with my parent when I was a kid. So, I took myself and Alf (the puppy) off to the local common, where I knew there were vast expanses of brambles and where, a few years ago, the boyfriend and I had a very productive blackberry picking session. Unfortunately this year was no where near as profitable. I don't know if I was too early, too late or if it has just not been a good year for blackberries. I came home with about 200 grams, which probably wasn't enough for making a decent amount of jam.
So, the following day I decided a trip into the New Forest, my childhood blackberry picking ground, was in order. Plus I really love walking Alf in the forest, he enjoys it so much. I took my camera along and took a few pictures in between picking berries and getting caught in brambles.

The New Forest on a rather grey but still rather warm day
Alf found a great big wet, muddy puddle to run around in

New Forest Ponies

The forest wasn't actually that much more profitable on the blackberry front, but it was so nice to get out with Alf and have a walk in the peace and quite, with practically no other people. I'm quite specific about picking berries, which probably slightly reduced my haul. I don't like to take too many from one spot, I'd rather pick a few from a bush as a walk past, you need to leave some for the wildlife! I got a fair few injuries too, several pricked fingers, a couple of splinters and a very prickled calf :/
Due to the low fruit yield, and the fact that I had definitely decided I wanted to make jam, I made a quick trip to the supermarket to buy some supplementary blackberries, as well as sugar and pectin, which I also needed. The recipe is not mine to share, I suggest you buy Queen of Crafts as a most excellent guide, but here are some pictures of my jam making fun :)

Berries; washed and draining (the redder ones came in the supermarket packs)
Sugar and Jam (sorry, bit blurry)
Berries in water (that spoon ended up very purple)
Really hot, boiling jam!

It was actually really quite easy to make, which I was surprised about. The instructions in the Queen of Crafts book are really simple and easy to follow (but you'll have to buy it to find out how I did it!). I did have a slight issue, having ladled it into jars and leaving it to cool for a while, it was pretty clear to me that it wasn't going to set. Having discussed with my mum, I decided to empty the jars back into the pan to boil for longer and, apparently, lemon juice (plus extra sugar to offset the sourness) helps in getting the pectin to set. Fortunately, after a second boil, with lemon juice, the mixture looked a lot more jammy. I put it all back into jars (unfortunately it had decreased in volume, down from 4 jars full to 3 and a third), sealed and left to cool overnight. Joy of joys, this morning I most definitely had jam :)
I also impressed myself with my resourcefulness as, not owning a funnel and not wanting to get covered in hot, sticky jam, I cut the top off a Pepsi bottle, which served as a fine makeshift funnel!
There was just one final step, dressing the jars up! I have a large quantity of fabric that I have accumulated for non-specific uses, and picked a heart print fabric to make lid covers. I cut out what I thought were reasonably size circles, but when I put them on the jars they were too large and looked a little silly, so I had to trim them up while still on the jars :/ I hope they don't look too scrappy now. I also made labels, I tried making labels by hand, but just couldn't produce anything I really liked, so I turned to my computer, and knocked up some pretty funky labels that I think suit me and my jam down to the ground :p

Betty's Blackberry Bomb Jam
Jam Covers

I'm really very happy with the outcome. I did a fair amount of tasting during cooking and it was really very, very yummy :) I'm not much of one for jam on toast, so I think I'm going to have to whip up some scones or jammy dodgers or something else that I can include jam in!

Hope you are having a good weekend,
Keep on Jammin'

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Queen of Crafts

Last weekend I received my copy of Queen of Crafts by Jazz Domino Holly.
I have been really excited about this book since I first read about it in Mollie Makes magazine back in May or June, when September seemed like a really long way away! A craft book written by the daughter of Joe Strummer, is there anything more awesome!? I added it to my Amazon wishlist straight away, then kinda let it slip my mind, until last week when I saw an announcement that it had been released and I bought it right away.

I have certainly not been disappointed and, even though I'm really busy, I pick it up at every available opportunity.
The book itself is beautiful. Just on an initial flick through I already knew I was going to love it. The pages are filled with beautiful colours, great little illustrations and photographs that accompany the projects.
There are sections for handicraft, woolcraft, patchwork, baking, preserving, gardening and beauty, amongst other things, the full gamut of crafting disciplines, and more than enough to keep even the most voracious crafter occupied. Don't think that the wide range of crafts covered means it's a whistle stop tour that lacks detail and doesn't allow for you to properly engage with the crafts. To my mind, each chapter contains as much detail as you would want to find in any book devoted to introducing a single one of the crafts covered here. I'm sure once you become more proficient you'll want to read more and search out new projects, but this is a wonderfully comprehensive starting point. Plus, the range of crafts might lead to you taking up something you hadn't originally intended to.

Illustrations inside the front cover

Contents Page

The book opens with a lovely introduction written by Jazz about the resurgence in the popularity of crafting, her childhood and how she got into crafting and creating and her involvement with the WI (Women's Institute). It is written with a lovely personal tone, in a way that it feels like she has sat down with you and is going to impart her great wisdom to you alone. This continues throughout the book as she takes you through the various crafts, from the basics of tools and terminology, through to techniques and tips, then on to practical modern projects and hosting craft based events. She walks you through knitting a chunky scarf and a bow headband, sewing a cake-shaped pin cushion and a knitting bag, various patchwork items, baking sponge cakes and jam tarts, making a range of jams, whipping up your own lip balm and body scrub and that's just a sample of the projects covered. There's something in there for everyone. I can't wait to try out the bow headband, and all the baking looks delicious, to be honest, I want to do all of it!

At every stage the book makes everything seem so easy and accessible, acknowledging that you might not be a master straight off, but always being encouraging. Jazz also makes efforts throughout to highlight the modern aspects and relevance of the crafts. There's no way you could come away from this book thinking that crafting is only for the elderly!
Everything about this book is just an absolute joy. It's beautiful, inspiring and packed with so many hints, tips and advice. Jazz Domino Holly totally makes it onto my list of inspiring women, talented, resourceful, motivated, funky and beautiful to boot. Plus, she has a leopard print sewing box!! (It's not one of the projects but I'm pretty sure I can make one on my own). If I wasn't inspired, I'd be jealous!
I personally love the little Clash/Rock N Roll/Rebel references that are sprinkled throughout - Hey, Ho, Let's Sew ;)

I have been into making things and crafting for a while already, but this book has served to further ignite my passion and inspire me to turn my hand to so much more. I am also really interested in her final chapter on setting up social craft groups. Jazz started her own WI group in Shoreditch, London, known as the Shoreditch Sisters, which have helped revolutionise the image of the WI. Now, starting my own WI group might be a bit much, but I would definitely be interested to get a group together to knit, sew, drink tea and eat cake together.
In my opinion, everyone should buy this book (and also, get yourself a copy of Mollie Makes).

If anyone would be interested in getting a craft group together in Hampshire then get in touch.
Happy Crafting,

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

An anti-ode to summer

So it looks like summer is over, supposing it ever properly started, and you know what, I am glad.
Summer is probably my least favorite season, which probably leaves me in a minority.
I love autumn, winter and early spring.
I like wearing boots and big socks, scarves and hats and coats. I like thick knits, wool and faux fur. I feel uncomfortable in swimsuits, bandeau tops and sandals. I can cope with skirts and shorts, but only if I can wear them with reasonably thick tights. I get more excited about fluffy ear-muffs than sunglasses. I like to sit under blankets, all wrapped up. I love open fires (not that I have one).
It's only been a week since the prospect of autumn arriving has been being thrown around, and I've already bought some big woolly socks and wellies!
Why do I dislike summer so? Well, partly it's because I'm a bit of a delicate flower (haha). As much as I like to see sunshine, I don't like it when it's hot, I hate it when it's humid, I despise sweating and I burn at the drop of a hat. Another thing that puts me off summer is the fact that it's almost entirely taken over by school holidays, meaning the world is over-run with people and children. Everywhere is busy. I'm an anti-social so-and-so at heart.
But Autumn. Autumn is full of beautiful colours, moody skies and bracing winds. Autumn can be warm but never too hot, and when it's not you get to pile on lovely layers of jumpers and bundles of scarves. I can go out in the autumn and walk without getting too hot and without places being too busy to be enjoyable.
Autumn gives way to winter. Yes it's dark, yes it's cold, yes it rains quite a lot. I don't even mind the rain that much, it's so nice to curl up inside with a blanket and hot chocolate while it's raining cats and dogs outside. Winter also brings wonderful crisp mornings with glittering frosts and the prospect of snow! Winter is the perfect season for breaking out sequined party wear, shimmering make-up and glittery heels.

I'm sure a lot of you will probably disagree with me on a lot of this, but to me, autumn and winter are the most beautiful and enjoyable times of year with the most exciting fashion. Summer is too, ordinary.
I do kind of understand why so many people love the summer so much, but I think autumn and winter are too quickly dismissed, especially given they make up the majority of our year in the UK! Autumn and winter have so much more to offer if you look past the rain and the grey clouds and embrace the positives! Find yourself a good pair of wellies, a big coat and go walk through an autumnal forest and kick leaves and then tell me autumn is not a beautiful time of the year!

All pictures included in this blog are from morgueFile.com, a resource for copyright free images.
I hope you're making the best of your current weather, whatever it is.

Monday, 5 September 2011

National Cupcake Week 12th-18th September

Next week is National Cupcake Week. Not that I need an excuse to make or eat cupcakes, but I'm getting rather excited by the idea of making huge quantities of pretty little cakes :)
Hopefully I'm going to have some willing volunteers to help me eat all the cupcakes I'm hoping to make, otherwise all my diet efforts will be wasted :/

My favorite ideas at the moment include;
  • Millionaire's Cupcakes: Basic vanilla cupcake filled with caramel and topped with chocolate frosting
  • Cherry Bakewell Cupcake: Almond flavoured cupcake, filled with jam and iced
  • Lemon Meringue Cupcake: Lemon flavoured cupcake, topped with lemon curd, frosting and a mini meringue
In case any of you are thinking of getting your bake on, either for cupcake week, or just generally, I though I would share some of my favorite baking blogs with you for inspiration.

Buns In My Oven
This blog features the best recipes, with pictures so delicious they make you feel like you're gaining weight by just looking at them. Of course, looking at the pictures is the least of your weight gain worried. With such divine creations as Hot Fudge Sundae Oreo Brownies, Rolo Cake Mix Cookies, Caramel Turtle Tart and Nutella Pop Tarts you can see what I mean!
For those of you less cake-obsessed than I am, there are also a plethora of great savory recipes too.
The recipes are all really well written, well explained and not too complicated. They also come with nice little stories behind them and some fantastic photography!
This is definitely one of my favorite baking blogs.

Confessions of a Cookbook Queen
OK, so this is another awesome sugar fuelled, cakey blog and it totally rivals Buns In My Oven for calorie content and beautiful pictures.
I have seen recipes on this blog that I could never have dreamt up, but definitely want to try. Some of the best include; Rocky Road Brownies, Mini Jello-O Fish Bowls, Cheesecake Filled Brownie Bites, Rolo Brownies and Key Lime Swirl Cheesecake Bars. That's just five, but I could honestly just keep on listing the amazing recipes on this site all day!
This lady sure does know her desserts, and her photography. This is dessert porn if ever I saw it :)

Cookies and Cups
Well, would you know it, another beautiful, mouth watering baking blog. It's a wonder I'm not a hideous, morbidly obese monster. While this blog may be another enemy of my waistline, I can't help but love it.
Every post contains a great recipe, accompanied by taste bud tantalising photography and a nice, personal blog post. Some of the recipe highlights in my opinion would be; Cream-cheese filled Snickerdoodles, Caramel Swirled Pretzel M&M Brownies and Double Glazed Funfetti Donuts.
Yet another fantastic recipe resource that I really enjoy reading.

I could go on, but honestly, the sight of all this cake is giving me cravings that I'm struggling to suppress :/ I must stay away from the can of caramel in the kitchen, things could get very messy.

If you have any favorite recipes or cake/baking blogs, I'd love to hear about them.


Friday, 2 September 2011

Friday Filler

I've got a few posts in the pipeline, but not anything that's going to be ready today, so I thought I'd fill the space by recognising and thanking my new blog followers, twitter followers and commenters.
I've had a super successful week with the blog, getting a record 153 views yesterday.
I really enjoy writing my blog and I'm absolutely thrilled to know so many people have dropped by and (seem to have) enjoyed reading it!
I've found some interesting new blogs through my new followers as well, which I will likely be featuring next time I do a Blog Love post.

Thank you again, your support means a lot,


Thursday, 1 September 2011

What to do with your skin when you're 26

My skin has been really poor lately, more oily than usual, getting far more spots and blemishes and just generally not looking great. I've never suffered from particularly problem skin, but I did think that, at the age of 26, I'd be beyond troublesome teenage skin!
My skin care regime has been a bit mixed up in recent months, mostly due to my confusion as to how someone in their mid-twenties should treat their skin. The focus of advice for twenty-something skin seems to be the impending threat of aging, but I'm still too busy trying to stop breakouts to pay too much attention to wrinkles I don't even have yet. I know there is so much advice threat advocates early action for best results, but I'm afraid and deviation from my war on blemishes and oil will have hideous consequences. Also, no point lying about it, the cost of age defense treatments is a major disincentive for me, if I can get moisturiser for a fiver, is a £20 anti-aging cream really four times as good? At some point I suppose I will have to take the plunge and see.
I am really trying to kick my Clearasil/Clean&Clear habit, apparently they're too strong for my 'more mature' skin. The fact that I am using them and am still suffering from troublesome skin just goes to show that they really aren't working for me anymore.
I'm hoping this horrible stage won't last too long, hopefully it will just be a phase caused by warm weather, too much work and changes in my diet. In the meantime, I made a trip to Boots this afternoon to get hold of some bad skin first aid.

Oil Free Moisturiser. Exfoliator. Witch hazel Cleanser.
Cleanser to remove the oil and prevent blocked pores. Exfoliator to further reduce build up of oil. Oil free moisturiser because, despite my skin being oily, it can still get quite dry.
I've already given the products a test run and my skin is still feeling pretty good, even after a couple of hours. The moisturiser is actually really good, it adsorbed really quickly and left my skin feeling moisturised but definitely not oily. With a slight nod to aging prevention, the moisturiser does have SPF 15, and sun damage will exacerbate the effects of aging, so that's a step in the right direction! The witch hazel cleanser is also nice to use, it doesn't smell too strongly and leaves your skin feeling instantly refreshed. I don't think this properly counts as a teen spot treatment that I'm meant to avoid, does it? I'll keep up the routine for a while and see what happens, probably with the addition of the occasional face mask, I'm not sure how much long term good they do, but I like the feeling of pampering myself :)

I'm also experimenting with a bit of an unusual mattifier to take the shine off my face, as I really hate being shiny :( I want to give it a bit longer before I write about it, but so far I'm pretty pleased.

Fingers crossed my skin picks up a bit soon, in three weeks my boyfriend is back from three months working in the US, and I don't want to be a horrible oily, spotty mess when he sees me again!
I don't suppose anyone has any skin care tips to share?
Has anyone tried pore cleansing strips before? I'm considered them for my nose, but I'm not convinced how well they'll work.